Gary Neville says “something isn’t sitting well” with Jurgen Klopp after his rant over referees in the aftermath of Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Burnley.
Liverpool beat Burnley 2-0 upon their return to Anfield with goals from Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane. It was a lively encounter from start to finish and Burnley were competitive. Too competitive for Klopp.
The German coach was animated in his post-match comments. And he made it clear that he thought Burnley had crossed the line with their physical approach.
“You saw these challenges with [Ashley] Barnes and [Chris] Wood, and Virgil [van Dijk] and Joel [Matip]. I’m not 100 per cent sure if they are really going in the right direction with these kind of decisions. It’s like we go 10, 15 years back to, ‘that was the football we wanted to see’ or whatever,” he told BT Sport.
He then criticised the pundits and public who demand that referees “let the game flow” and told them to go and watch wrestling.
Klopp added: “But we have to stick to protecting the players. We cannot deny that convenience. ‘That’s a challenge, I love that’, then watch wrestling.”
“You saw these challenges with [Ashley] Barnes and [Chris] Wood, and Virgil [van Dijk] and Joel [Matip]. I’m not 100 per cent sure if they are really going in the right direction with these kind of decisions. It’s like we go 10, 15 years back to, ‘that was the football we wanted to see’ or whatever.
Neville says he was not expecting Klopp’s comments, especially as a manager who preached “heavy metal football”.
“I’m surprised,” the former Manchester United star said on The Gary Neville podcast.
“Before the games as well he was talking about the referees and the Leno decision against Brentford.
“Everybody last weekend, on and off the pitch, in the interviews, seemed to think we were going in the right direction. I still think that.
‘Referees have been brilliant’
“For me, the referees have been brilliant in these first two weeks, absolutely brilliant.
“That’s not to say they won’t make a mistake, but they’ve been absolutely fantastic and so have Stockley Park.
“So I’m really surprised that Klopp has gone for them in this period and is saying we’ve gone back 15 years because this is the man that talked about heavy metal football.
“Football being fast and furious, the excitement of English football, the cut and thrust of it, sliding tackles.
“All the things you’d expect Klopp would love, the physicality of the game. But something isn’t sitting well with him and I’m not quite sure what it is, maybe we’ll get that out of him in the next couple of weeks.
“But it does feel as though the physical part of the game that has come back in the last couple of weeks isn’t sitting well with him, which I am surprised with.”